The calendar says that we have over a month of summer yet, but already change is in the air.  Some trees are flecked with orange and yellow in the park where I run.  The temperature is slowly dropping from a daytime high in the 90s to the upper 70s.  People are returning from vacation and school is right around the corner.

I’m thinking alot about change these days because I’m leading our congregation through a time of transition.  I remember reading somewhere that healthy churches go through a season of significant change about every five years or so.  That sounds about right to me.  If you pastor a church long enough, you will eventually have to navigate through the seas of change — that is, unless you choose to resist the winds of the Spirit.  That may be one reason why short-term pastorates are so common.  You can find a new assignment instead of dealing with the tough work of leading people through the turbulence.

I don’t enjoy change any more than the next guy.  In fact, I’ve discovered that in many ways change is more painful for the leader because you become the focal point for everyone’s sadness and anger and questioning.  But at times like these, I stand on a handful of convictions:

* All living things, including churches, change.  The alternative is stagnancy and eventual death.

* God orchestrates change.  He led the Israelites across the Jordan into the Promised Land.  Jesus talked about new wineskins for the new wine of the Kingdom he was bringing.  His Spirit “transforms us from one degree of glory to another” (II Cor. 3:18).  If we don’t want change, the last People we want to spend life with are/is the Trinity.

*Letting go of something familiar frees us to grasp God’s new activity. We cling to the familiar because it’s comfortable and secure.  God desires something more for our lives and our churches than comfort and security.  He desires transformation.

* It’s not really the change itself that we don’t like; it’s the process of change.  It’s the period of transition between what was and what will be that can be so turbulent.  It’s my job to help shepherd the people through that turbulence — not to protect them from the change.

*God will bring us through. His church has survived millenia of persecution and political unrest and worship wars.  He will bring us through this, too.  I’m banking on that.

So what helps you get through the seasons of change?

About Pastor Dennis

I started following Christ as a senior in high school. My wife Cheryl and I have been married since 1979 and have three grown sons. I have pastored three churches during 27 years of ministry, including my current assignment in Owego, NY. I enjoy reading, running, hiking, and all kinds of music.
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13 Responses to Seasons

  1. Larry Mancini says:

    Excellent Dennis! God will bring you into the new land! We are living in the times of Joshua today!

  2. Cheryl says:

    So true Pastor, most people do not like change whether it be the process of change or just plain ole change. Change is a way of life. So we must choose to accept or not to. But I believe that those who do not accept change lead a very sad life. I also find that the more we change the more we stay the same. We need to learn to be positive and not so negative.

    • Pastor Dennis says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Cheryl. Have you ever noticed that many of the things we cling to and become upset when they’re taken from us are things that were once changes we didn’t want to accept? We need to continually hold things loosely and give God the authority to change anything He wants in our lives. May the Lord give you courage as you embrace change in your own life.

      • Cheryl says:

        Oh yes so true kind of funny isn’t it. That we dont want to let go of something we didnt want in the beginning. Change here we come.. Also thank you for the well wishes as you know there have been many changes in my life the last 5 years. Like I said before I may be or have been broken but my spirit is not broken, praise be to the Lord for that.

        • Pastor Dennis says:

          That’s one of the remarkable things about God’s grace, Cheryl — He enables us to “bend but not break.” Your life is a wonderful testimony to that!

  3. Pingback: Seasons | Faith Conversations with Pastor Dennis |

  4. Bob says:

    I have been attending Owego Nazarene for over 22 years and have seen a lot of changes. Good has always come from God lead changes. Chuck Zink ws pastor when I first started here. I was disappointed when he left. It was to become D.S.,. and the district was better because of it.
    Pastor Daniel brought love and unity to a tense, divided church. I believe his ministry changed us so that we were able to welcome you.
    Paul Ellis did great things with the teen group and music. His leaving brought in Steve, who updated our music while rattling only a few chains. Each left for greater ministries. Paul Montigue Left to bring new life to a faltering church. Dave’s ministry has brought us into the 21st century. I believe there is another church that needs him to help with updating.
    It is all part of God’s perfect plan. It is now up to us to follow it.

    • Pastor Dennis says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Bob. You’ve certainly been through a number of seasons of change in our church! I would imagine that every time one of those transitions took place, some people thought the church would never recover. It’s good to look back and remember the “new things” that God brought about when we had to let go of the old. Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Amanda says:

    Yup–living there right now, in a seemingly endless season of change. As we are about to embark on a new journey, changes are coming not only for my own family, but for the church we are about to become a part of. I am already seeing and hearing things that make me think these things will be tough to navigate, and it’s tempting to run away scared or become consumed with worry and anxiety. Instead, I am being encouraged by many sources (including you through your blog!) to trust God and move forward as he leads. Thanks for sharing and for encouraging all of us in our seasons of change.

    • Pastor Dennis says:

      Hi, Amanda. I think the times that we have to navigate people through times of change are when we learn our deepest leadership lessons. The important thing is to hold steady when people make it challenging. You will make it! A book I read years ago when we were about to leave our first church (Potsdam) after 11 years of ministry there was entitled “Transitions” by William Bridges. It might be a good read for you right now — I can even loan it to you if you’re going to be here Sunday. I’ll be praying for you and your family during this season of change. Cheryl and I love you guys a lot!

  6. Linda says:

    None of these changes are or will take God by surprise. He isn’t slapping His forehead saying, “Now how can I deal with these changes?” Let’s look to God with anticipation for the next great and wonderful thing He will bring us into and into us.

    • Pastor Dennis says:

      What a great reminder, Linda. I’m glad God never says, “Uh oh! What am I going to do now?” Your words also remind me that the most important changes He may be wanting to bring about are in us — bringing our hearts more into alignment with His.

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